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Interview: Nikita from SweetPea Pugs, a modern dog breeder

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Tuesday 19 May 2015
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
Interview about breeding healthy pugs like it's 2015!
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Her name is Nikita Hirst, she is a passionate breeder of healthy Pugs, going with the lovely affix SweetPeaPugs. She started dog breeding years ago with Oscar, her first Pug and she, since then, never stopped loving these little beautiful four-legged family members.

SweetPeaPugs features on many websites and magazines, she is well-appreciated in the Pug World in Great Britain and her puppy pugs are commonly reserved before they are even born.

We are particularly happy to have Nikita answer our questions about breeding dogs and pug breeding, because we love her modern approach to dog breeding. Indeed, you will find her answering emails to pug lovers, who sometimes are not even her clients, but you will also find her on Twitter and Facebook. This is what new-age breeders should be!

Nikita is a superb lesson to breeders who think if you are on social medias, you are neglecting your dogs. They could not be more wrong than this, and SweetPeaPugs proves it!

Nikita Hirst, founder of SweetPeaPugs
Nikita Hirst, founder of SweetPeaPugs

Hello Nikita, could you please introduce yourself and your dog breeding activity?

My name is Nikita and I run SweetPea Pugs. After a tremendous amount of research looking for the ideal breed, I discovered the Pug.

At the time of getting my first dog I was pretty much bedbound and a breed that loved to sleep, needed human attention and less exercise than a standard breed, seemed perfect. This did not mean he would not be walked or looked after. I have a very supportive family that helped out when needed. I spent around a year looking for the ideal Pug and travelled half way around the country to find him.

Within a few months my health had improved dramatically and having ‘something’ that relied on me to survive gave me a reason to try and make the best of life. It was never my intention to breed but after realising how much he had improved my life and the joy he brought to me, I wanted to share that with other people.

What do Pugs need from what you’ve witnessed in your years of experience?

Pugs in the snow!
Reddog Opal of SweetPeaPug And His Friends Building a Snowman

Pugs do not need a lot of exercise but they love going for walks. You must not take your Pug for a walk in very hot weather because being a short-nosed breed they can easily become overheated and soon be in distress. When travelling in hot weather, soak a towel and lay in the bottom of their travelling box. Always take water with you to cool them down in case of an emergency.

How do you differentiate your dogs and your business from the other breeders out there promising “quality dogs”, too?

Most people hear of me by word of mouth rather than advertising. Mainly because I have a very good profile in the Pug community based on how I look after my dogs, care for them, and breed them.

Do you do anything special, on a daily or weekly basis, to give extra care to you dogs?


You should inspect your Pugs’ ears and eyes daily. If necessary wipe the eyes and ears with cotton wool dampened with warm water. Using a cotton wool ball wipes away the wax and dirt it has brought to the surface.

Because Pugs spend a lot of time with their face mashed against the ground and in their food bowl, their wrinkles accumulate a great deal of dirt. Therefore, cleaning the folds is essential to avoid them developing a serious skin infection. Once a week the wrinkle above the nose should be cleaned with a damp cloth or fragrance-free wet wipe.

Also, Pugs nails grow quite fast. You will probably need to cut your pug’s nails approximately once a month, maybe more. I recommend you to start as soon as you get him or her home. The best time to cut your pug’s nails is while he/she is fast asleep on your lap at night. They may wake up, but hopefully won’t be motivated to put up a struggle. This way he/she gets used to the process.

Pug In Sink Shampoo Bath
Cadola Coco of SweetPeaPug Waiting For His Shampoo Time!

Pugs do not require a lot of baths but your pug will shed copious amounts of hair. Brushing your pug about twice a week keeps the coat nice, smooth and shiny and stimulates the skin.

Pugs do not need much grooming. On a weekly basis, you should brush their coat, keep their faces clean and check their eyes for problems. Most Pugs take about 20 minutes a week. Monthly, you should also trim their toe nails, and maybe give them a bath if they need it. Many owners find using a shedding tool helps control their moulting.

[pullquote-right]A trip to the vet is not good enough. Tougher breed-specific tests need to be carried out.[/pullquote-right]

How many litters per year are you having on average?

We only have a few litters a year here but people do use our stud services meaning we do have puppies fathered by us throughout the United Kingdom.

What diet are your pooches following?

We feed a raw diet – just as in humans, I believe you are what you eat, and this also applies to dogs.

We did used to feed a dried food diet, but after having one Pug with a skin condtion I looked at other means of controlling it other than a prescription diet. I wanted to know exactly what went in my dog food and the only way I managed this was to go down the biologically appropriate raw feeding route and prepare it all by myself.

Meal preparation (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)
Preparing Several Meals Following The BARF Diet!

The raw diet helps reduce bad breath and nasty odors from your dog. Your dog’s immune system will naturally be stronger. It helps to keep your pet’s weight stable, preventing obesity and arthritis. Your dog will have healthy skin; and a healthy, shiny coat with a reduced chance of skin conditions.

Once we changed to a raw diet we had no need for medicines or prescription diets and the skin conditions disappeared.

What would you tell to those who say dog breeding should cease or become ultra-regulated as there are too many dogs in rescue/rehoming centers?

I think all dog breeding should be regulated and all dog breeders premises should be inspected. There are far too many puppy farmers in the world whose dogs live in the most terrible conditions.

Because of the high price it costs to buy these breeds, the internet is crawling with adverts for pug puppies that are cons or puppy farmed. I am not ashamed of who I am as a breeder, I work hard at being a good dog person and encouraging others to be the same and if I can be an example to others and reduce the number of backyard breeders then that makes me proud.

I spend hours and hours responding to hundreds of calls, emails, and messages every month mainly with guidance and mentoring — of which I give my time freely. I am a breeder and I am proud of it! All my dogs are house dogs and we all here would never have it any other way.

What would you tell to those who say dog breeding should cease as there are too many homeless dogs waiting for homes in shelters?

Yes, there is a tremendous amount of dogs in shelters all over the country from overbreeding and I get asked all the time why I feel it is acceptable for me to breed the dogs the way I do.

My answer to this is short and simple and for which some will agree and some will disagree. I breed a different type of dog, I do not breed Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Mastiffs, Rottweilers or similar over bred breeds. My breed is not your everyday breed. How many pugs do you see in animal shelters? This is because usually a lot of money and thought is invested in the purchase of a Pug and very rarely is just purchased on a whim.

Many shelters warn about breeding toward an extreme, such as to flat face, as it increases the risk of medical conditions – do you agree?

The breed you choose needs to be suitable for your lifestyle. Myself suffering with two chronic health conditions would mean 95% of breeds in shelters would not be suitable for me. This is why I turned to this breed. As with all breeds, they come with some health conditions, I do my upmost to breed out and health test for some of these conditions as best as I can. This does not mean I can rule out these conditions but I can lessen the likelihoods.

Healthy Pug Puppy
SweetPeaPug Cassanova Is a very Healthy Little Pug Boy!

None of my dogs suffer in any shape or form and love life to the max. Most of the time many of the dogs I breed are already reserved before they take their first breath.

How important is it for a breeder to have an online presence nowadays?

We are very active online through many social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and these also are great ways to keep in touch with many of the owners of dogs we have bred. Roughly 80% of our enquiries are due to word of mouth and online activities.

If you had to start afresh with another breed, which one would it be?

We are also looking at breeding French Bulldogs as well as Pugs, so it kind of answers the question.

What has been your most memorable sale? And client?

We keep all our sales private unless given consent from the new owners. We have re-homed many of our puppies throughout the country and people travel hundreds of miles to come and see us. Many of our Pugs have been featured in magazines, newspapers and many other media outlets

Any advice you would give to newcomers in this industry, who perhaps would like to breed Pugs?

Research, Research, Research. Research some more and ensure you health test your dogs properly.

A trip to the vet is not good enough. Tougher breed-specific tests need to be carried out to ensure health issues are bred out, not in. ALWAYS vet the homes your puppies are going to. If you don’t want to sell someone a puppy, then don’t! I would much rather keep one of my puppies than let it go to the wrong home.

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